Refining & Petrochemicals Middle East
NON-CONTACT MEASUREMENT AND INSTRUMENTATION FOR CONTINUOUS CATALYST REFORMING
Continuous Catalyst Reforming or CCR is a process that takes place in the production units of refineries of crude oil converting hydrogen and naphtha reacted to produce the desired end products. During the process, naphtha are distilled from low low-octane to aromatics and liquid reformates that eventually are part of premium blending stocks for high-octane gasoline.
The technology of CCR when first introduced in 1971 addressed a major climate-conscious act for clean air as fuel was now being produced of higher grade which ushered in a global transition to lead-free gasoline production.
In today’s modern public mobilisation, nearly every vehicle operated is gasoline run with unleaded fuel and a catalytic converter, as advances in the automobile industry aspire to newer cleaner innovations to run on. The process uses metal-based catalysts, in the form of beads that are passed through the unit to create desired reactions which form by-products as they get spent. These catalyst beads usually get coated in coke as the reaction process takes place and to regenerate it, the CCR process requires heat to break away the coke production that builds up on the surface of the catalyst beads, reaction temperatures reach between 495 – 535°C. The cycle of regeneration sees the beads pass through this heat to ensure buildup is removed completely before the reintroduction of the catalyst to complete the cycle.
The process of ensuring the complete breakaway of build-up needs constant, redundant measuring as a fail-safe way to maintain process efficiency. Due to the severe conditions, internal measurements of the containment are not possible with contact sensors due to the abrasive and toxic nature as well as the introduction of heat during CCR. However, a robust solution addressing said conditions are required.
VEGA’S instrumentation solutions to measurements
As the regeneration process requires heat, which can be damaging to instruments directly mounted on the hoppers that receive the spent catalyst. However, addressing the need to measure the volume of the catalyst is crucial for which VEGA’S FIBRETRAC 31 which is a radiation-based sensor with a flexible plastic sensing element for continuous measurement of liquids and bulk solids and is suitable for level measurement under extreme process temperatures, in case of critical process or aggressive products. The FIBERTRAC 31 delivers precise measuring results even under the hardest application conditions with an impressive measuring range of up to 7m.
Alternatively, VEGA’S SOLITRAC 31, another radiation-based sensor with maximum sensitivity in measurement readings as it is equipped with a PVT rod detector that allows for readings of liquid and bulk solids.
Radiometric technology for safe redundancy in readings
The radiometric (nuclear) instrumentation PROTRAC series from VEGA provides reliable and repeatable process measurements with utmost operational safety under taxing conditions and due to the abrasive nature of the catalysts, which can contribute to the wear and tear as well as malfunction of a contact-based measuring instrument.
Radiometric instrumentation can last up to 30 years or even longer given wear and tear and maintenance throughout the course of use. These instruments come as a pairing with a source holder and a detector that carries out the measuring by emitting gamma radiation. They have placed on opposite sides of the vessel where the source emits the radiation and the detector on the other end receives it after passing through the vessel or pipe and of course the medium that is being measured. Equipped with the electronics, the detector then uses the gamma readings to gather the measurements and produce a value for readings.
VEGA’S radiometric systems and instrumentation has catered to hundreds of EPCS and Process Licensors across the globe with more than 35 CCR units being served and serviced by VEGA in the Middle East alone. VEGA has been developing, manufacturing, and improving radiometric measurement technology since 1955.